Over the past year I have prayed long and hard about going back to school to pursue my Master’s of Divinity. I’ve sought the counsel of perhaps a dozen pastors and Christian leaders. I’ve researched schools, financial options, and everything related to seminary. I have come away feeling moved of God to pursue a Master’s of Divinity degree. The school that I ended up choosing, based on a variety of factors, is Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. Choosing the school was the hard part, with several other schools very closely “in the running” if you will. I’m excited and a bit nervous. I haven’t been in school for about ten years. There is a significant financial obligation. And, I’m a busy man already with my role as senior pastor at Gages Lake Bible Church, and author, and a husband of one and a father of four.
So why attend seminary? Well, in true blog fashion, here are five reasons:
1) If it is my lifelong duty to teach, preach, and write about the Bible, I must continually pursue knowledge of the Bible. It’s true that you can become a good communicator of the Word without going to school. D.L. Moody and others come to mind. But generally these men were outliers, not the norm. And, given the opportunity to attend school, they surely would have. You can gain knowledge by doing personal, self study. But nothing disciplines the mind like formal, thorough, systematic education. Seminary doesn’t cure all ills and can’t guarantee a fruitful ministry, but it’s a tool I pray God will use for that end.
2) Seminary forces me to read and study books I wouldn’t naturally discipline myself to read. It’s romantic to think I’d just naturally peruse the deep books on theology you find in seminary. But let’s be honest. I won’t do that. Seminary forces me to wrestle with the depth and breadth of theological studies in a way you just can’t do on your own. I look forward to gaining much knowledge, for instance, in the areas of church history, Puritan thought, and studies of men like Jonathan Edwards.
3) Seminary will give added credibility to my ministry. I wouldn’t go to school simply to have the Mdiv after my name. At the end of the day, those hurting souls don’t care how many degrees you have on the wall. But having a degree from a reputable school such as TEDs does bring a measure of stature, of credibility. This isn’t ultimate, but it’s not unimportant. When I open the Word on Sundays, I would like people to be confident that I had devoted my life to serious study of the Word. Mdiv, Trinity goes a long way to securing that.
4) I want to learn how to be a better pastor. There is so much I have to learn about being a pastor, about leadership, about life. I look forward to serious reflection and study on this during my time at TEDS, not only in the classroom, but also in the friendships and mentoring opportunities available to me. I’m fired up about being part of a new tribe of men committed to serious ministry. I’m excited about learning how to serve my church well, to build up the local body of Christ, and to sharpen my ability to share Jesus with those who don’t know Him.
5) There a lot of things I don’t know that I dont’ know. Serving as a pastor these last four years has reinforced something I suspected before: there’s a lot I don’t know about the Word that I don’t even know I don’t know. I want to be a lifelong learner of the Word of God. I want to plunge into the depths. I want to know theology, not so I can win a Bible quiz or so people can shake their head and marvel at my keen insights. I want to know the Word because it tells me about the God who loves me, it draws me closer to Him.
Bottom Line: I’m going to seminary. Pray for me and my family during these years of study.